BBC Local Radio to cut 139 jobs, plans to become ‘more agile’

BBC local radio stations in England will lose 139 jobs as the network keeps the simplified schedules it created in March and adds a new all-England late show.

Helen Thomas held an all-staff virtual meeting on Thursday morning to communicate the changes with staff, with local shows to have just one presenter.

She said the BBC needed to “refresh, reinvent and reinvigorate” after recent events.

She told staff the new schedules have brought “a new clarity” to audiences across England with three, four-hour shows in its daytime schedule.

BBC England needs to save £25 million in operational costs before 2022.

In total, 450 equivalent full-time roles across radio, TV and online in the nations and regions will be cut, from a staff of around 3,000.

Cuts are also being made in television and online news operations, and the BBC will continue to look at saving costs with its buildings portfolio.

Helen Thomas, the director of BBC England, said people have turned to its news services for “in huge numbers” during COVID-19.

“But those services were created more than 50 years ago, have changed very little and need significant reinvention. That has meant making some difficult decisions.

“We are in the age of the Facebook community group and the WhatsApp neighbourhood chat.

“We must adapt to better reflect how people live their lives, how they get their news and what content they want.

“We’re going to modernise our offer to audiences in England by making digital a central part of everything we do.

“We’ll take forward lessons from COVID-19 that will make us more agile and more in touch with communities while also ensuring we’re as efficient as we can be.

“I’m confident we can evolve our local and regional services while improving our impact and better serve our audiences.”

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